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The title of this text is: Social Media is Making Us Dumber. Do you agree?

Why/
Why not? And if yes, how do you think this happens?

1. What do these words from the text mean? Find definitions or synonyms.

A To laud to praise
B savvy the ability to make good judgements
C to fume Feel, show or express great anger / emit gas or
vapour
D supremacist an advocate of the supremacy of a particular
group
E alt-right an ideological grouping associated with
extreme conservative or reactionary
viewpoints
F allegiance loyalty or commitment to a superior or to a
group or cause
G Outrage an extremely strong reaction of anger, shock,
or indignation
H blowup an enlargement of a photograph
I empirical based on, concerned with, or verifiable by
observation or experience rather than theory
or pure logic
J pernicious Harmful, damaging, destructive
K to hammer To repeatedly or continually emphasise (an
(something) home opinion or idea) until or so that a person or
group of people understands it
L misleading giving the wrong idea or impression
M to cull reduce the population of (a wild animal) by
selective slaughter
N political correctness he avoidance of forms of expression or action
that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or
insult groups of people who are socially
disadvantaged or discriminated against
O sliver a precious shiny greyish-white metal
P to be up for grabs available
Q monger denoting a dealer or trader in a specified
commodity
R righteousness the quality of being morally right or justifiable
S battlements a parapet at the top of a wall, especially of a
fort or castle
T skirmish fight, battle, clash
U to frown upon to disapprove of something
V utterance a spoken word, statement, or vocal sound

2. Choose two words / expressions from above to insert in meaningful


sentences

a. The unit was caught in several skirmishes and the commanding officer
was killed.
b. The dark hair was now highlighted with silver.
3. Read the text and fill in the blank spaces with the suitable fragments.

Social Media Is Making Us Dumber. Here’s Exhibit A. a) left and right


By JESSE SINGAL disagree
JAN. 11, 2018
This week, a video surfaced of a Harvard professor, Steven
Pinker, which appeared to show him lauding members of a
racist movement. The clip, which was pulled from a
November event at Harvard put on by Spiked magazine, b) The right
showed Mr. Pinker referring to “the often highly literate, celebrated;
highly intelligent people who gravitate to the alt-right” and
calling them “internet savvy” and “media savvy.”
The clip went viral. (1)The right celebrated the left
fumed. The neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website ran an article
headlined, in part, “Harvard Jew Professor Admits the Alt- c) on any
Right Is Right About Everything.” controversial
“Steven Pinker has long been a darling of the white subject
supremacist ‘alt-right,’” noted the lefty journalist Ben
Norton. “And he returns the favor.” Others reacted to the
rumor with simple exasperation.
The idea that Mr. Pinker, a liberal, Jewish psychology
professor, is a fan of a racist, anti-Semitic online d) to praise the
movement is absurd on its face, so it might be tempting to alt-right
roll your eyes and dismiss this blowup as just another
instance of social media doing what it does best: (2)
generating outrage.
But it’s actually a worthwhile episode to unpack, because
it highlights a disturbing, worsening tendency in social e) false and
media in which tribal allegiances are replacing shared illogical
empirical understandings of the world. Or maybe
“subtribal” is the more precise, fitting term to use here.
It’s one thing to say that (3)left and right disagree on
simple facts about the world — this sort of informational
Balkanization has been going on for a while and long f) generating
predates Twitter. What social media is doing is slicing the outrage.
salami thinner and thinner, as it were, making it harder
even for people who are otherwise in general ideological
agreement to agree on basic facts about news events.
That’s because the pernicious social dynamics of these
online spaces hammer home the idea that anyone who g) This is
disagrees with you (4) on any controversial subject making us
even a little bit, is incorrigibly dumb or evil or suspect. On dumber.
a wide and expanding range of issues, there’s no such
thing as good-faith disagreement.
The online anger aimed at Mr. Pinker provides a (5)
perfect case study.
The clip was deeply misleading. If you watch the whole h) two
eight-minute video from which it was culled, it’s clear that journalists and
Mr. Pinker’s entire point is that the alt-right’s beliefs are a lawyer
(6)false and illogical— but that the left needs to do a
better job at fighting against them.
The clip begins with Mr. Pinker saying he agrees with the i) perfect case
other panelists, (7)two journalists and a lawyer, that study
“political correctness has done an enormous amount of
harm in the sliver of the population that might be — I
wouldn’t want to say ‘persuadable,’ but certainly whose
affiliation might be up for grabs.”
Mr. Pinker goes on to argue that when members of this j) at which
group encounter, for the first time, ideas that he believes point everyone
to be frowned upon or suppressed in liberal circles — that
most suicide bombers are Muslim or that members of
different racial groups commit crimes at different rates —
they are “immediately infected with the feeling of outrage
that these truths are unsayable.” […]
It would be impossible for a reasonable person to watch
the eight-minute video and come away thinking Mr.
Pinker’s point is (8) to praise the alt-right rather than to
make a psychological argument about political
correctness, alt-right recruitment and how to better fight
that movement’s bigoted ideas. […]
However, it’s getting harder and harder to talk about
anything controversial online without every single
utterance of an opinion immediately being caricatured by
opportunistic outrage-mongers, (9)at which point
everyone, afraid to be caught exposed in the skirmish
that’s about to break out, rushes for the safety of their
ideological battlements, where they can safely scream out
their righteousness in unison. In this case: “Steven Pinker
said the alt-right is good! But the alt-right is bad! We must
defend this principle!”
(10) This is making us dumber.

4. Answer these following questions based on the text:

a) What is the controversy about?


b) Why was the situation absurd?
c) What aspect of social media does the episode underline?
d) Why is the social dynamics of online spaces harmful?
e) What was the clip actually about?
f) What outrages easily radicalizable people?
g) Why is it more and more difficult to discuss controversial topics online?

a) The controversy is about what Mr. Pinker(Harvard professor) said


about people who gravitate to the alt-right.
b) It was absurd because the professor was a jew and “admitted” the alt-
right is right about everything.

c) The main aspect of social media is (as the article said) generating
outrage.

d) It’s harmful because it makes you insecure about your opinion and if
you dare to disagree automatically you are considered to be dumb or
evil.

e) The clip was about the left who must fight alt-right for having false
and illogical beliefs.

f) The thing that outrages the radicalized people is denying their


answers.

g) It’s more difficult to discuss controversial topics online these days


because of the fear to be caught exposed in the skirmish that’s about
to break out by opportunistic outrage-mongers